Consumer protection organisation Test Achats has issued a statement condemning the decision by Telenet and other TV providers to make it impossible for viewers to skip through advertising during programmes.
Telenet will put its plan into operation at the end of September for new clients, rolling it out to other clients in 2022. The company will add on a full 60 seconds of advertising at the start of programmes which will be impossible to skip.
In that way, the company claims, commercial TV stations will still have the income from advertising revenue they need to survive.
And while Telenet will introduce the change first, other providers like Proximus, Orange and Voo are expected to follow suit later.
However Test Achats describes the plan as ‘a bad idea’.
“Test Achats regrets this decision by Belgian operators to apply this new advertising model,” the organisation said in a statement.
“Consumers are already paying a high price for their digital TV subscriptions. Customers are now forced to pay to watch the advertisements and that without any guarantee that this mandatory commercial break will have a favourable effect on the advertisers, because as a viewer you can always use this minute for a break or a visit to the fridge,” suggested Jean-Philippe Ducart, head of public affairs.
“An alternative could be that Telenet and the other operators lower their prices for people who cannot skip the ad or keep the same price for those who do not want to,” he said.
The organisation warns that the system could turn against the operators, encouraging more viewers to switch from broadcast TV to streaming services – an evolution already taking place.
“At Telenet, for example, you already have a Netflix 4K subscription (€15.99 per month) and a Streamz subscription (€11.95 per month) for almost the same price as your digital TV subscription with decoder included (€27.87 per month),” the organisation said.